Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Once Bitten

On Sunday, I awoke with what I thought was a pulled muscle in my right leg. That's happened before, typically with me being awakened by a muscle spasm; indeed, I'd had one a week earlier on my left leg. In this case, I didn't get the charley horse, but I did have a painful right leg. It got a little better later in the day, although as we drove home from Hazen on Sunday evening, my leg started feeling much worse.

Monday was even worse. I could barely get out of bed and hobble around, and almost needed the cane I keep by the bed. (I haven't needed it for years; I bought it during a time when I had a pinched nerve in my back.) The shower-massage seemed to help, as did mentholated willow-bark ointment, but it was only minor improvement.

Tuesday was just as bad, if not worse. Late in the day, I asked Lisa if she could have a look at it, and she was horrified at what she saw, as did I once I realized what was going on.

For a start, look at this shot of my feet. It should be obvious that my right foot is badly swollen compared to my right. I hadn't quite noticed how bad it was until Lisa pointed it out to me.

Spider Bite

Taking a picture of the back of my right thigh is somewhat challenging, and the very fact that I can't easily see this part of my leg is part of why it took so long to figure out what was happening. Besides the swelling, there was an angry red patch with what looked like some sort of insect bite or bites. Given how much it hurt, we speculate that I was bitten by a spider.

This leads to additional worry. There haven't been many spiders in this house. There are the little harvester spiders that hang about in the corners of ceilings, but they aren't dangerous; even if they did bite you (which takes a lot of doing, as MythBusters found out), they don't pack enough venom to do much more harm than a mosquito bite. But the other spiders we've had in the house (thankfully very rarely) are black widows.

Now, as I later found out, a black widow bite isn't likely to kill someone my size and weight who isn't already very sick, as the venom almost never gets into your bloodstream, although it does of course cause pain in the muscles involved. And of course, if I was bitten sometime overnight Saturday-into-Sunday, if it was going to go acute, it would have probably already happened by now. Nevertheless, this swelling is No Fun, and I made plans to go to Fernley Urgent Care this afternoon. Lisa was kind enough to drive me so I didn't have to cramp my foot again. She brought a book; she would need it.

Renown Urgent Care Fernley was pretty well set up. I arrived five minutes before my appointment, checked in, and was almost immediately seen into an exam room. I explained the situation. I was seen by a PA (physician's assistant), and she explained that they don't usually do a lot about insect and spider bites. However, in this case, the swelling I'm having (my right leg from just below my knee to my toes are badly swollen) indicates an infection, and they can do something about that.

They gave me two antibiotic injections in the rear (the PA explained that in order to get the full effect, they needed to put half into each side). Because in a small number of cases, people have an adverse reaction to the injection, I had to wait for fifteen minutes, which was fine as it gave me time to get dressed and I ignored the sign about turning off my cell phone and I was able to kill time until they agreed that I was okay.

Lisa had been waiting for me for nearly an hour thanks to small delays and the post-injection wait, but she wasn't troubled, nor was Kuma Bear. Lisa then drove us to Walgreen's where I collected a prescription for oral antibiotics. The pharmacist's instructions were slightly different from the PA regarding eating with or without food, and in this case I'm going with the pharmacist, as it's job to know the medications. I'm fortunate in that I'm not allergic to any antibiotics, and I don't seem to be subject to the nausea that some people get with this stuff (doxycycline).

I was feeling good enough that, with Lisa driving, I picked up a latte from Starbucks on the way home (chasing a bonus stars offer), although that did mean that I would have to wait two hours before I could take the first dose of the antibiotic (due to dairy product avoidance) and one hour before having dinner thereafter.

The PA warned me that while the general expectation is that these antibiotics will knock down the infection, reduce the swelling, and relieve the pain, there is a small but non-zero chance of bad reactions, or the possibility that the bite venom is worse than it looks. (There no necrosis around the wound site, which I've read is symptomatic of black widow bites.) While I've not had any of the symptoms of a black widow bite other than the swelling and pain around the bug-bite site, it's not impossible for things to get worse, not better. She told me that if things get worse, go the emergency room in Reno/Sparks. (Fernley, despite being bitter than either Fallon or Yerrington, doesn't rate its own hospital; the nearest ER is in Sparks.)

I'm feeling optimistic at the moment that whatever bit me was a lesser bug, and it's just that I'm having a bad reaction to it and the bite got infected. Antibiotics and ice on the swollen areas should help. Unfortunate, it's hard to keep my foot elevated while I'm at my computer desk.
Tags: medical

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